Vegan, Jane Austen student, Minimalist, Reader, Librarian

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Lunch for the Week

Music: Handel: Water Music

Every Sunday, I prepare food to take to work for lunches during the week. Yes, it can sometimes be tedious and feel like a chore but it also saves us a lot of money and ensures that we are eating well.

Today I baked extra firm tofu* seasoned with toasted sesame oil, Bragg's Liquid Aminos, and a delicious all-purpose spice blend:

**1 package of extra firm tofu, sliced and patted dry in a dish towel to absorb water
1/2-1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2-3 tbsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos (you could also use soy sauce or tamari instead)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour the sesame oil on a large baking sheet and, using a spatula, spread evenly over entire sheet.

2. Lay tofu slices on baking sheet, about 1/2 inch apart.

3. Pour Bragg's over tofu slices. Flip the pieces of tofu so they are all evenly coated with both oil and Bragg's. Sprinkle all-purpose spice blend on each piece of tofu.

4. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and turn over slices. Bake for another 12 minutes. Let cool before putting in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Use prepared tofu to make sandwiches or put into wraps--I use 2 slices-- with avocado or tomato, lettuce, and Veganaise.

I also cooked a grain for the week; today it was barley. During the week, I then combine the barley with a variety of chopped vegetables (carrot, cucumber, avocado, tomatoes, celery, olives, radishes, onions, whatever else I might have on hand), and some sort of dressing--usually a slice of lemon & sea salt or toasted sesame oil & sea salt--for a salad to enjoy along with my sandwich.

I also take an apple or two and sometimes one of Jim's delicious scones. I love that he barely puts any sugar in these now. They are perfect with my nettle tea & a good book.

*recipe from The Garden of Vegan
**I like Trader Joe's Organic Extra-Firm Tofu best as it holds up well to baking.

Monday, April 22, 2013

What Being Vegan Means to Me

To be vegan is to be aware of every single thing you put into your body.

To be vegan is to nourish your body with a wide variety of plant foods, from greens to grains to legumes.

To be vegan is to feel the best you have ever felt in your entire life.

To be vegan is to want to share how wonderful you feel with others with enthusiasm, not judgment.

To be vegan is to know that the longer you are vegan the better you will feel with each passing year.

To be vegan is to know that your body is rebuilding and repairing itself each and every day.

To be vegan requires discipline and a love for your body and all living things.

To be vegan is to realize that you only have one body in this life so you want to take care of it.

Monday, April 15, 2013

I Don't Miss Cheese

How I used to love my dairy! Ever since childhood, I drank a glass of milk daily and put cheese on almost everything. I loved gooey, buttery grilled cheese sandwiches and macaroni and cheese.

But when I decided to go vegan in 2007, I never really thought about cheese. I automatically bought "transition" foods including vegan cheese, which is made with either soy or other non-dairy milks. But they weren't very good tasting (in my opinion) and were just as sticky and hard to wash off my plates as dairy cheese. I actually wondered what that sticky mess was doing to the INSIDE of my body if it was so hard to wash off a plate or pan!

Then Daiya vegan cheese came along and I tried it. Again, I wasn't impressed although many vegans love it.

Fact is, I just don't miss cheese. At all. It's not even on my radar. But many people have told me that this is the number ONE reason they can never become vegan. I have since learned that it's because cheese is addicting.

I don't recall craving or missing it when I became vegan. Perhaps I ate the vegan cheese and that satisfied whatever craving I had?

We make pizza without cheese but I no longer even make a vegan macaroni and cheese because I  don't really want to eat cooked pasta, preferring more raw foods and sprouted grains instead.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Environment & Acne

I follow several vegan doctors on their web sites and through their published literature including Neal Barnard, Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., T. Colin Campbell, and John MacDougall. All of them endorse a vegan diet to manage and prevent chronic disease and all of them are looked upon warily by the general medical community. Why? Because their patients get better through diet, not just through prescription drugs.

Farmers' Market offerings, South Haven, Michigan

Dr. MacDougall once said that if you have a skin irritation, you can put some healing cream on it. But if you continue to scratch it, no amount of cream is ever going to help. Until you stop scratching the skin, it will never completely heal. In other words, if you're damaging your body, no amount of medicine will help if you don't find the source of the problem and stop the damage in the first place.

I learned this recently. For the past year, I have been suffering from acne in the form of severe blackheads on my face. I have NEVER had blackheads to this extent before. I occasionally suffer from the random cystic blemish during my monthly cycle (due to hormone fluctuations), but these blackheads were very hard bumps on my face that lingered for months only to come to a painful head which left dark spots on my face.

I was at my wit's end. I went to see a dermatologist and, of course, they gave me some topicals. But I also wanted to find the ROOT of the problem, so I visited a homeopathic physician as well. She prescribed supplements. Okay. But the problem was still there.

I love books, but the dust can be a problem

I decided to take matters into my own hands as I have several times before in my life--years ago I suffered from insomnia and solved my problem through research and experimentation. Through the years, I have often kept a written log when I have had problems and it helps me see patterns. This was no different.

But it was my husband who first suggested an environmental cause. I work in a very old library in Pittsburgh where the upper stacks have seen years of coal dust settle onto its books. When I was working in these areas of the library, as I would pull the books down from the shelves, the coal dust was falling onto my face, over and over again, clogging my pores, filling with dirt, and forming blackheads.

Libraries are VERY dusty.

As an experiment, I decided to stop working in this area for one month. I didn't get a single new blackhead and this has allowed my skin to finally heal. I use an exfoliant and a topical prescription to keep the hormonal cystic acne under control so I do realize the benefit of some prescriptions. I also put fresh aloe vera gel on my face to help fade the dark spots.

So what am I doing in my job? I'm having the books brought to me instead of pulling them myself, keeping myself well away from the damaging toxic dust.

How about you? Are you suffering from a chronic ailment that no amount of medicine is helping? Have you discovered what the problem is? How did you do it? I'd love to hear from you.